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Bible Commentaries

Grant's Commentary on the Bible

2 Peter 1

Verses 1-21

Peter writes not only as an apostle (as in his first epistle), but as a bondman and apostle. So authority is not only stressed, but lowliness of subjection, a precious reminder in days of deter-mined in subjection. Nor does he directly address only the dispersed of Israel, but those who have obtained the same precious faith as the apostles, a faith all the more precious when it is challenged by innumerable forms of unbelief. And this is through the righteousness of Him who is named "our God and savior Jesus Christ." (New Trans.) The deity of Christ is clearly declared here; and His Divine righteousness seen as the basis of our being blessed with such precious faith. This could only come to Israel through the Messiah, who must be God manifest in flesh.

Grace, the favor and power that elevates above present circumstances; and peace, the tranquillity of confidence by which to pass through all circumstances, are wished as being multiplied to the saints. As evil multiplies around us, so grace and peace maybe multiplied in full sufficiency to meet the need. But this is found only in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord: nothing can substitute for this.

And it is in perfect consistency with the fact of His Divine power having freely given us every provision that has to do with life and godliness. Life is of course the vital spring of spiritual existence, which can only be sustained by Him who gives it. Godliness is the practical manifestation of that life, a reflection therefore of God's own character. The first has to do with God's side of things, the second with our own side.

And again, this is through the knowledge of Him: we must know Him in order to be in any measure like Him. And He has called us "by glory and virtue". Glory is objective, the great prospect outside of ourselves, but unspeakably attractive. Virtue is subjective, and attractive also to the renewed heart, for what believer can fail to desire that his life should be one of true virtue?

In this same life and godliness given us by the knowledge of God are involved exceeding great and precious promises, V.3 has told us that all this is by His Divine power, which can make these things of vital value to the soul. As promises, these must be laid hold of to be enjoyed now, for they are not merely promises as to the future, but the Word given us now, by which we become in practical reality "partakers of the divine nature." This is in precious contrast to the corruption that is in the world through lust, which by His grace we have escaped.

Having such abounding, provision for every need that may arise, now we are exhorted to use all diligence in developing this Divine nature rightly. Personal exercise and responsibility is imperative In this. And first, "supply in your faith virtue." It is not exactly adding, but having faith characterized by the firm courage of conviction. But this too must be tempered with knowledge, or it may be misguided zeal. All of these qualities mentioned in verses 5 to 7 are essential, and necessary to be kept in delicate balance.

Knowledge must be mixed with temperance, for without this even an enlightened man can be intolerant. And further, one may be temperate, and- yet lacking in patience, especially with those who are intemperate. So that patience is a needed adjunct of temperance. Yet also, one may be patient in a negative sort of way; so that godliness is the positive accompaniment of this, for this springs from an objective regard for the glory of God.

Yet the matter is not left here, for even in godliness, one may forget brotherly love, and this is therefore insisted upon, that is, love toward those who are also children of God. But neither does the matter stop here, lest there should be any favoritism, but simply "love" is the last, an embracing characteristic to permeate all that has gone before. Notice here how near Peter comes to John's doctrine, for he has before spoken of our being partakers of the Divine nature, and certainly love is its very essence and energy.

Not only should these things be in us, but they should "abound," that is, be in fresh, vibrant exercise consistently. If so, we shall be neither idle nor unfruitful in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus -Christ. Proper occupation will produce excellent results. Indeed, idleness itself is a deadening, miserable thing, to a Christian con-science and one cannot be happy if not bearing, fruit.

In lacking these things, a Christian even can have a practical blindness settle upon him, he fails to see things from along-range- viewpoint, and occupied merely with his own selfish interests, he may even forget that he was purged from his old sins. If one is not developing the new life, he will be virtually starving it, so that his own state will be miserable. How serious too is the dishonor to the Lord, in this condition!

How needful then is the diligence of firm purpose to make the, things of Christ a practical reality. The fact of our vitally enjoying these things will prove the reality of our calling and election. How do we know for sure that we are called and elect? Only by the Word of God which lives and abides forever. Is this word of vital value and truth to us? One who has a light regard for it will of course have reason to doubt his own salvation: one who fully believes it has every assurance of his own calling and election, and, in putting the word into practice, will never fall.

This itself makes for an entrance ministered abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He is evidently not speaking of a future entrance, but of that which is present. The kingdom is the public sphere of Christianity, and one who truly enjoys Christ enters it in an abundant fulness of reality and blessing: he enters now that which is everlasting. This is Peter's special line of truth.

He makes no claims of originality, or of teaching new things. But it was needful that saints should be put in remembrance of these things, and if he did not do it, this would be negligence, a serious consideration for every servant of the Lord to take to heart. Though such things are known, and even though saints are established in the present truth, it is constantly necessary to be reminded of such things of eternal value. The expression "present truth" no doubt refers to what has been revealed in this dispensation of the grace of God, in contrast to what was formerly revealed.

Nor did Peter grow weary of this ministry of putting the saints in remembrance of the truth: he considered it fully becoming as long as he lived on earth, which indeed at the longest is very brief for any of us. His natural body was but a tabernacle, a temporary tent, which shortly he would put off, according to the Lord's word in John 21:18-19.

Verse 15 adds the precious value of Peter's writing as he does as inspired by the Spirit of God, so that this abides as Scripture, by which he continues to speak to us after his decease.

For the value of it is eternal and precious, not the mere emptiness of cunningly devised fables, such as are multiplied in the world today. The apostles were together eyewitnesses of the majesty of the Lord Jesus Christ. And specifically was this so of Peter, James, and John, when they saw the Lord transfigured and the voice of God the Father from the excellent glory, declaring Him to be His beloved Son, in whom He had found pure delight. To this great revelation then there were three reliable witnesses, whose testimony fully agrees, and reported by three of the Gospel writers.

From verse 12 to 18 "present truth" is emphasized now verse 19 speaks also of a more sure word of prophecy, truth as to the future being absolutely certain, and therefore a solid basis of encouragement for the saints, just as is present truth. We do well therefore to take heed to prophecy, not only intellectually, but in our hearts. For the phrase beginning "as unto a light," and ending "day star arise" is a parenthesis. Prophecy is a light that shines in a dark place until the light of the day dawns with the arising of the morning star. Of course the morning star speaks of the coming of Christ for His saints. It is not that the morning star arises in our hearts, but to prophecy we do well to take heed in our hearts.

But the word of prophecy is of a consistent, interdependent character. No prophecy has any independent interpretation. If my interpretation does not fit perfectly with the rest of Scripture, then I am wrong. How vital it is therefore that we take Scripture itself deeply to heart, not taking a meaning to it, but bringing a meaning from it, which corresponds to the rest of Scripture.

For man's will has had nothing to do with the prophecy of the word of God: and if man had no part in originating it, then certainly mere man is not the interpreter of it. But God laid hold of men, holy men set apart as those who loved good and hated evil. By the Holy Spirit He moved them to speak far above the measure of their understanding. They assumed no place of authority, but in lowliness of faith searched their own writings with desire to find God's interpretation as to them (1 Peter 1:10-12). God used the many various God-given abilities and capacities of men, yet guarding and guiding all they wrote in perfect accordance with His will.

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Bibliographical Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on 2 Peter 1". Grant's Commentary on the Bible. 1897-1910.